David Kirkpatrick

July 2, 2009

How is Obama doing on civil liberties?

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:16 pm

Civil liberties are a major rock in the foundation of the United States and Obama ran on a group of issues that leaned heavily on civil liberties. Heading into this Fourth of July weekend, and given he’s been in office for over five months now, I think it’s a fair time to take a look at where the Obama administration is vis-a-vis civil liberties.

Not so great. This administration has been more about lip service than action on the civil liberty front. To be fair change in D.C. won’t happen overnight on any set of policies, but to date there doesn’t seem any urgency to many of the civil liberty concerns Obama ran on in the race for the Oval Office.

Here’s Cato’s Doug Bandow on Obama’s dissappointing performance:

It’s fair to say that civil liberties and limited government were not high on President George W. Bush’s priorities list.  Indeed, they probably weren’t even on the list.  Candidate Barack Obama promised “change” when he took office, and change we have gotten.  The name of the president is different.

Alas, the policies are much the same.  While it is true that President Obama has not made the same claims of unreviewable monarchical power for the chief executive–an important distinction–he has continued to sacrifice civil liberties for dubious security gains.

Reports the New York Times:

Civil libertarians recently accused President Obama of acting like former President George W. Bush, citing reports about Mr. Obama’s plans to detain terrorism suspects without trials on domestic soil after he closes the Guantánamo prison.

It was only the latest instance in which critics have argued that Mr. Obama has failed to live up to his campaign pledge “to restore our Constitution and the rule of law” and raised a pointed question: Has he, on issues related to fighting terrorism, turned out to be little different from his predecessor?

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3 Comments »

  1. Although, I personally am so far to the left that even the democrats appear to me to be “right-wing,” I consider myself to be a strict constitutionalist. It is my opinion that since its inception there has been an organized and systematic assault by the conservatives in the United States on the civil liberties written into the US Constitution. The “War on Drugs”; “War on Terror”; “War on Communism” and a host of other wars waged by the right wing are really nothing more than a War on People–an excuse to erode civil rights to the point of non-existence. I invite you to my website devoted to raising awareness on this puritan attack on freedom: http://pltcldscsn.blogspot.com/

    Comment by David Scott — July 4, 2009 @ 5:26 pm

  2. Mr Scott,

    I do not see how it is possible to be both “so far to the left…” and a “strict constitutionalist”. The US constitution does not only guarrantee the individual civil rights that are the subject of most public debate, it stipulates limitations on federal government power. Even moderately left-wing policies require an expansion of federal government activity that is clearly illegal under the constitution.

    Comment by Christopher Fletcher — July 6, 2009 @ 5:00 pm

  3. [...] David Kirkpatrick examines Obama’s record on civil liberties by quoting Cato scholar Doug Bandow. [...]

    Pingback by Who’s Blogging about Cato | Think Tank West — July 6, 2009 @ 6:23 pm


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